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The 14 kids of the Hager family, c. 1957

This is a photo of my Grandpa and Grandma Hager and their 14 kids, taken around 1957. Dad is second from left in the front; he’s about 13 years old.

Grandma gave birth to 16 children. Two girls died as babies in the span of a couple of months in 1933 from whooping cough. More of that story is featured in my memoir. It’s hard for me to imagine the grief that overtook my grandparents after the loss of those girls.

I only knew Grandma Hager; Grandpa Hager died when I was a year old, in 1975. What I best remember about Grandma is the joy and love she exuded and passed down to her children and grandchildren. Whatever grief she felt at the loss of her children (she also would outlive three adult sons, including my dad), she found a way to cope. As best as I can tell, she relied upon her strong Catholic faith in times of darkness. For that, I admire her greatly.

Grandma died in 1996 at the age of 89.